George Connor, OL
George Connor was born in Chicago, and was not expected to survive infancy, weighing only three pounds at his premature birth. He played two years of college football at Holy Cross and was a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press in 1943. He then served in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, Connor was drafted in the first round, fifth overall by the New York Giants in 1946, but instead transferred to the University of Notre Dame to be closer to his ill father. He was twice a consensus All-American as a tackle for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, in 1946 and 1947. He won the first Outland Trophy as the nation's best college interior lineman in 1946. Connor was a key component of Notre Dame's 1946 and 1947 national championship teams, and was the captain of the unbeaten 1947 team. After graduating, Connor signed with the Chicago Bears in 1948 for $13,000 a year guaranteed for three years, a high salary at the time for a lineman. He played for the Bears from 1948 through 1955. In eight seasons, he was named a first-team All-Pro five times, and was an invitee to the first four Pro Bowls. At first exclusively a tackle on defense, in a game in 1949 Bears head coach George Halas ordered Connor to stand upright outside the end in an attempt to thwart the running of Philadelphia Eagles halfback Steve Van Buren. The plan worked, as Connor held Van Buren in check and the Bears handed the Eagles their only loss of the season. "We always set high standards for George Connor and he exceeded them," said Halas. He became one of the first big, mobile linebackers in the NFL. Connor retired during training camp in 1956, still bothered by a knee injury sustained in 1954.